When the world’s best drivers line up their sleek, light roadsters at the starting line for next weekend’s Indianapolis 500, a new kind of sponsorship will be taking up graphic space on the side of the cars: CBD.
According to the Indianapolis Star, the year’s biggest IndyCar race will feature a slew of hemp and cannabidiol companies sponsoring a number of teams competing for the checkered flag. CBD brands Defy and Craft 1861, as well as Liquid Gold Processing (a manufacturing company that produces cannabidiol extracts) will all be vying for marketing space on the fastest car.
“I think that the amount of investment that I’m seeing in the category, [CBD companies] could range from major associate level on cars out here to full primary,” Jon Flack, president of Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, which teamed up with Denver-based Defy CBD for this weekend’s race, told the IndyStar about the deep-pocketed cannabidiol sponsorships. “It has that amount of investment behind it.”
Like most other professional athletes, the drivers behind the wheel are technically barred from using cannabidiol products themselves due to the inclusion of cannabis and all of its byproducts on IndyCar’s banned substance list. But just because drivers can’t consume it, doesn’t mean that they’re teams can’t cash in on the non-psychoactive hemp extract.
"We are extremely proud to be able to work with a new brand to IndyCar," Trevor Carlin, Team Principal of Carlin, which is collaborating with Craft 1861 for this year’s Indy 500, said in a press release. "As a young team to the NTT IndyCar Series we are learning and expanding quickly. To have the backing of Craft 1861, also expanding quickly in a developing industry is very exciting. Hopefully this is the start of a long relationship with Craft 1861."
To make sure that all of their ducks were in a row, teams seeking CBD sponsors made sure to run the idea by IndyCar officials and executives at NBC, which will televise this weekend’s event live. After setting up guidelines to ensure that each advertisement follows federal and state law, fits the television station’s visual guidelines, and does not market a company that also sells THC products, both IndyCar and NBC signed off on the CBD sponsorships.
“I won’t be surprised that behind this announcement, you’ll see a significant flooding of investment from that category into the sport,” Flack said. “It’s legal, there’s nothing not legal about it, and there’s a lot of education to do. Even though our drivers really can’t consume the product today, this platform will spark the discussion for that and we really embrace that.”
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